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Koko’s Bartini issued $500 fine, still fighting Inslee’s COVID mandates

Koko's Bartini, a restaurant in Kennewick, Wash., says they're going to engage in civil disobedience and not close down during the mandated shutdown. Check out Kokos at kokosbartini.com

The owner of Koko’s Bartini in Kennewick has said that he plans to stay open in defiance of Jay Inslee’s new orders and rollbacks for restaurants. Koko’s has since received multiple warnings, including a visit from the Washington liquor board saying that they are open in violation of COVID restrictions.

Owner Dana Slovak joined the Dori Monson Show on KIRO Radio to discuss.

“On Thursday of last week, LCB liquor board came in and gave me a written violation, which I signed for,” he said. “Yeah, whatever.'”

He took the paperwork to the law firm that’s helping them.

“He came up with a loophole, as long as I have a sign on my wall … it says ‘Must answer yes to question below.’ And then the question is, ‘Have you self-quarantined for the past 14 days?’ As long as the customer says, ‘Yes, I have.’ ‘Come on in and welcome to Koko’s’ — while shaking your head up and down while you’re asking them the question, you know what I mean? Wink, wink,” he said.

Slovak says he’s received tons of support from the community, with people offering to help pay legal fees.

“It’s been wild and crazy over here. We’ve been swamped, slammed, you know, people handing me money. ‘Here you go to help your legal fees out,’ stuff like this,” he said. “Donations were coming in, which is fantastic, at kokosbartini.com.”

WA restaurant defies Inslee’s shutdown orders, calling it a ‘peaceful protest’

Last night, the liquor board paid a visit just before opening and before Slovak arrived, and brought plenty of people with them.

“Apparently, four cars show up with eight agents and some wearing flak jackets,” he said.

Supporters of the restaurant found out and also showed up.

“They were just leaving. One of the guys told me, ‘I chased him down out of the parking lot.’ So he comes back and tells me about this. He follows him into the hotel parking lot across the street. Confronts them. The liquor board asked, ‘Who are you?’ The citizen goes, ‘No, who are you and what are you doing and leave them alone.’ So they take off, and then another group follows them wherever they went,” Slovak said. “So I don’t know what happened after that.”

“I get there and all these citizens were pouring up to the parking lot and are just going ‘Where they at, where they at? We’ll build the wall right here so they can’t come in,'” he added.

Slovak learned that they had dropped off a $500 fine.

“I read it and it says I have a $500 fine, or I can close my doors down for five days, from December 29 to January 4.”

Dori asked: “Now that you’re doing interviews with somebody like me, they are going to target you. Did you want this? I mean, do you need this in your life? You’re a truck driver. You’re a business owner. These are tough times with the coronavirus. Do you want and need this in your life?”

“Yes,” Slovak responded. “I need this. I love the fight. And we got to stand up and fight or they’re just gonna roll us over.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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